In our Adversity, we Grow our Capacity

When Steve Jobs was coming out with the iPhone, he asked his engineers to design a phone with one button. His engineers told him that people didn’t want a phone with only one button. Jobs said, “People don’t know what they want until they know what they can have and they won’t know what they can have until someone makes it available to them. Don’t tell me they don’t want it. Tell me if we did it, how we would do it.”

That is how Apple developed a phone that revolutionized the mobile industry. Jobs had a growth mindset. His engineers initially had a fixed mindset. To thrive in today’s world, having a fixed mindset is simply not an option. When one has a fixed mindset, one is much less willing to change.As we all know, the only constant in our world is change.

Ginni Rometty, IBM’s CEO, once said, “Growth and comfort cannot coexist.” After thinking about her words, I started thinking about situations in my life when I grew the most. My biggest personal growth periods where those times when I found myself facing elevated heights of adversity. One of my biggest periods of adversity was when I was studying Electrical Engineering in University.

I had never drastically doubted my intelligence and ability to truly succeed at something until this period of time in my life. There were so many moments where I would find myself in the engineering building at 5am watching the sunrise thinking to myself, “What am I doing with my life and where am I going?”

One of the biggest reasons I studied Electrical Engineering was because I knew it would break me down. Yet I also knew that if I could rise back up, I could do anything in life as long as I had confidence and a work ethic. Having the confidence that you can do anything in life is one of the most liberating and joyful feelings one can have. Yet to build this mindset, one must be willing to go through the depths of despair at times. However, the beauty of despair is that it is as temporary as you make it. You can either shorten the despair or you can prolong it. We have control over two things throughout our lives - our attitude and our work habit. If you take control over your attitude and work habit while going through hard times, you’ll prosper faster than you can ever imagine.

While water is extremely hot at 211 °F, it boils at 212 °F. The only difference between extremely hot water and boiling water is one degree. When water boils, it creates steam which can be used to power trains and move thousands of tons of weight. One simple degree will determine whether a train is stalled or if it moves. We can apply this principle to our lives. How many times have we given up when we became uncomfortable doing something? How many times did we give up when we got tired on the treadmill? How many times did we not perform that extra set at the gym out of fear of failing or out of discomfort?’

These are the moments where we need to dig deepest and realize that these are our most optimal growth zones. One of the biggest life lessons I’ve learned is that success has no sympathy for the validity of our circumstances. The biggest difference between those who succeed and those that don’t, is that extra degree of effort.

Those who think they can and those who think they can’t, are both usually correct in their assumption because our thoughts are often self-fulfilling prophecies. Those who think they can move mountains, will. And those who think they can’t, won’t. Belief and work habit differentiate those that do and those that don’t. Embrace adversity and you’ll grow your capacity.

If you found these perspectives valuable, share them with someone who might be going through adversity. You might help them get through it

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